4-H Presentation Competition Teaches Public Speaking

— Written By Erin McSpadden and last updated by
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Participants in the 2016 Forsyth County Presentation Competition

Participants in the 2016 Forsyth County Presentation Competition

“I am uncomfortable with public speaking” is a common response given in answer to the dreaded “What is your biggest weakness?” question during job interviews. In fact, the top results of a Google search for the phrase “public speaking” all also include words like “fear”, “hate”, and “anxiety”. However, skills demonstrated by effective public speakers are also skills that contribute to a successful job interview, and comfort with speaking to a group of people is helpful in most professions.

Because of this, 4-H members are encouraged to give a presentation each year in order to practice public speaking skills. These presentations use audio-visual aids and can include a demonstration, PowerPoint presentation, posters, and props. Often, they allow students to utilize problem-solving skills and encourage 4-H’ers to research topics in-depth. Through their presentations, youth learn to organize their ideas in a logical manner and share what they have learned with confidence, poise, and intelligence. By practicing their public speaking skills in front of their peers and judges from their community, students become comfortable speaking to a diverse audience in a safe, non-judgemental space.

Forsyth County 4-H held its county-wide Presentation Competition on May 10, 2016. Thirty participants presented on a wide range of topics — Alfred Hitchcock, blogging, the states of matter, and omelette-making, to name a few. Each student presented to two judges, one of whom had knowledge in the presenter’s area of focus, and one with experience in 4-H programs.

Several 4-H alumni, former club leaders, and former agents returned to judge this year’s presentations, and their comments were very helpful to those students advancing to the district-level competition. We would like to thank Gail Bryson, Brandon Hartman, Bryan Hartman, Terri Bost Moy, and Melanie Pledger for sharing their 4-H presentation experience with this year’s competitors.

Additionally, we would like to thank Hannah Johnson, the Forsyth County Ranger for the North Carolina Forest Service; Sheila Britt-Smith, the Nutrition Supervisor for the Forsyth County Department of Health; Kelli Isenhour, the Vice President of Programs and Education at SciWorks Science Center; and Carol Roan, the author of Speak Up: The Public Speaking Primer, for lending their expertise and advice to our presenters.